Buffalo, NY - New numbers are out that show spending is up when it comes to Buffalo teachers using their cosmetic surgery benefits. The free Botox, tummy tucks, even facials for teachers are often criticized and have gotten a lot of national attention.
Nearly one quarter of the current Buffalo Public Schools budget pays for employee benefits, which includes the often talked about cosmetic surgery rider. As part of the union contract, Buffalo teachers get free cosmetic coverage. They can get anything from hair removal to breast enhancements.
The story made it onto FOXNews.com Monday after new numbers show spending is up. While cosmetic surgery spending fell 37-percent to $5.9-million for the 2010-2011 school year, and fell again the following year, it went up four-percent each of the past two years, from $5-million to $5.2-million to $5.4-million last year.
Kyle Olson founded the Education Action Group Foundation. It's a non-profit conservative organization often critical of teachers unions. His group received the numbers after filing a Freedom of Information request.
"This is the most egregious examples of out of control, wasteful, useless spending when it comes to schools," says Olson.
Every year, the Buffalo school district must figure out how to close budget gaps that reach into the millions. Many times, that has meant cutting positions, but since teachers haven't had a new union contract in more than ten years, the cosmetic surgery rider remains.
"They're spending $5.4-million this past academic school year on free cosmetic surgeries that are absolutely not necessary and contribute zero to the education of students," said Olson via Skype Monday night.
Last year, the district had a 55.5-percent graduation rate.
Buffalo Teachers Federation President Phil Rumore blames the district for the cosmetic surgery rider still existing.
"All the district has to do is reach closure with us on a contract. We told them for ten years that it's gone, it's up to them, to reach closure on a contract. So if it's still there it's because they haven't reached closure with us," said Rumore.
"They keep saying, they'll probably say again today that we're trying to work out a new contract, a new collective bargaining agreement, and you know we've been negotiating for years, but the reality is they are able to impose terms that are favorable to taxpayers, that are favorable to the school board, and they choose not to do that," says Olson.
The district was not able to connect us with anyone for an interview Monday because of the holiday. We will be following up with school administrators Tuesday for comment.